Sanitation is a neglected chapter in human development. But it has an important role in the story of economic and social development. As sanitation services have become second nature, productivity has benefited from healthier populations. Without it, disease and death take a large toll, and hinder progress. Right now, 2.5 billion people are without basic sanitation services and over 4000 children die every day from disease caused by inadequate sanitation and hygiene.
The sector is currently riddled with various levels of dysfunction due to inappropriate and unsustainable approaches. The risks can become even more apparent in cases of disasters such as flooding and earthquakes. Making sanitation services widely available, affordable and resilient requires a collective effort from sanitation experts and professionals from fields as diverse as architecture and urban planning, social marketing, sociology, agronomy, biochemistry and economics.
To bring together this collective effort and share knowledge on the new sanitation solutions, Stockholm Environment Institute (SEI) has been selected by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation to lead a knowledge sharing and discussion project surrounding their Sanitation Science and Technology Programme. The Programme has over 80 sanitation science and technology projects. The programme now wants to share the results from these in an open public forum engaging a broad range of experts and the general public to source innovative and sustainable sanitation solutions.
Over the next 15 months SEI will work with the Programme Grantees of the Foundation in order to broaden understanding and discussion about their work. The grantees will be encouraged to work through the Sustainable Sanitation Alliance (SuSanA) that has about 200 institutional members and some 2000 discussants on its Discussion Forum (www.forum.susana.org).